Consumer Reports recently published results of a study on patient safety in New York City area hospitals, and the findings were alarming. Results showed that almost all hospitals, including several well-known institutions, perform worse than most other hospitals around the country in overall patient safety.
Researchers looked at four key measures of patient safety to make their determination: hospital-acquired infections, readmissions, how well hospital staff members communicate with patients about medications, and discharge planning. These ratings were then combined to create an overall safety score.
Researchers found that of the 50 lowest-scoring hospitals nationwide, 30 are in the New York City area. The five lowest scoring hospitals nationally, all in the New York area, were Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx (68% worse than average), Nassau University Medical Center in Long Island (63% worse than average), Forest Hills Hospital in Queens (62% worse than average), St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Yonkers (62% worse than average), and St. John’s Riverside Hospital in Yonkers (62% worse than average).
In their own defense, some of the hospitals offered explanations for the issues, including the fact that large urban areas pose challenges because of the diversity of languages (Jacobi Medical Center reported that patients speak over 150 languages, making it difficult to convey information accurately). The center also reported seeing mostly indigent patients who frequently suffer from substance abuse or mental illness and are uninsured, homeless, or living in shelters, all factors contributing to the lack of follow-up care and risk of readmissions.
Jacobi Medical Center has already committed to an infection-prevention program to cut the rate of bloodstream and other infections, as well as another initiative to reduce readmission rates. The center has also invested in a simultaneous translation system to meet the needs of its diverse patient population. Other hospitals on the list are also taking measures to improve their patient safety records. Forest Hills Hospital was the first non-profit hospital system in New York State to post safety data on its website, according to a hospital spokesman.
The highest scoring New York area hospital was St. Francis Hospital, in Long Island, which had a 22% better than national average record. Seventeen hospitals did not have enough data to be rated, including Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Lenox Hill Hospital.